June 23, 2022
40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIBERATION OF THE FALKLAND ISLANDS
On the 26th of March 1982, the start of Operation Azul, later code-named Operation Rosario, Argentina’s naval ships sailed, bearing west towards the Falkland Islands, a remote British dependent territory in the South Atlantic. Five days later, on the 31st of March, Whitehall, headquarters of the British Government in London, received first reports of this suspicious deployment. It became clear an invasion was imminent, most likely about to take place within the next two days.
This ominous prediction materialised on the 2nd of April 1982, when Argentina, caught in a wave of nationalism, captured the Falkland Islands held and ruled by Britain for nearly 150 years since 1832. Argentina took the neighbouring island of South Georgia the following day.
The Argentine operation began late in the evening of the 1st of April, when the destroyer ARA Santísima Trinidad disembarked special naval forces south of Stanley, the island’s capital. The bulk of the Argentine force landed a few hours later.
The invasion soon established itself, coercively forcing the surrender of Governor Rex Hunt at Falkland Government House, the home of the Falkland Islands Governors, seat of British Administration. On the 2nd of April, at 16:30 local time, the last telex conversation between the operator in the Falklands and an operative in London announced that the islands were from then on under Argentine control.
First there were attempts to negotiate a peaceful settlement, but after the first Haig (US Secretary of State) shuttle of diplomacy between the governments of Argentina in Buenos Aires and the United Kingdom in London, it was clear that this could not be achieved. The Argentinian Military Junta, led by Lieutenant General Leopoldo Galtieri, was suffering criticism for its oppressive rule and economic management at home. The Junta had planned the Falkland Islands invasion as a means of diverting attention by promoting patriotic feeling and propping up the regime.
The invasion was initially successful. Argentine Forces firmly established themselves and took control of the islands. News of this success received in the mainland shifted public opinion and a passionate wave of nationalistic fervour swept Argentina. Any suggestion of a negotiated settlement was wishful thinking. From an Argentine point of view, the invasion constituted a reclamation of territory that was, by rights, exclusively theirs.
Britain thought otherwise.